‘history’ Category

  1. Through a fen to the pit

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    December 3, 2017 by AK

    I’ve never listened to AC/DC, but let’s say I grew up with it. At school and at college, every other desk bore a semblance of their logo – carved, scratched, inked, penciled. (I’m talking about late-Soviet Moscow, to be clear.) Everybody pronounced the name IS-sy DIS-sy or EES-sy DEES-sy – I still don’t know why. …
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  2. Tchaikovsky’s civil service career: an early advantage

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    November 26, 2017 by AK

    I’ve spotted this little detail in Wikipedia’s article on Tchaikovsky; On 10 June 1859, the 19-year-old Tchaikovsky graduated as a titular counselor, a low rung on the civil service ladder. Appointed to the Ministry of Justice, he became a junior assistant within six months and a senior assistant two months after that. The rank of …
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  3. It didn’t start in 1917

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    November 23, 2017 by AK

    The organizers of Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932 – the London show mentioned in this post – seem to believe that Russian arts burst into dazzling blossom in 1917 as the revolutionary spring ushered in a kingdom of liberty: …we will mark the historic centenary by focusing on the 15-year period between 1917 and 1932 when possibilities initially seemed limitless and …
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  4. “Someone 1917”: Boris Grigoriev’s portrait of Nicholas Roerich

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    November 21, 2017 by AK

    I can’t recall whose portrait, and by whom, this visitor is photographing. However, the painting to the right of it is the 1917 portrait of the Russian Futurist poet Vasily Kamensky by another famous Futurist, David Burliuk. (Here’s another image of Kamensky by Burliuk, from 1916.) The painting on the left must be this portrait, also …
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  5. This is not the Red Army

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    November 21, 2017 by AK

    In the London Review of Books, T.J. Clarke reviews Revolution: Russian Art 1917-32, an art show put on by the Royal Academy in London. His review is illustrated, among other images, with this photograph, captioned “The Red Army with the black square.” It gets at least one of the colors wrong. This cannot be the Red Army: the servicemen …
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  6. “Someone 1917”: Boris Grigoriev’s “Faces of Russia”

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    November 14, 2017 by AK

    A most rewarding exhibition – well thought through and thoroughly prepared. It features a selection of works, mostly paintings, created by Russian artists around 1917, roughly from the start of WWI until the early 1920s. The revolutions of 1917 broke out in the midst of a golden age for Russian visual and performative arts – …
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  7. Erase and rewind

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    November 9, 2017 by AK

    The BBC reports: US actor Kevin Spacey is to be erased from a completed Hollywood film following the allegations of predatory sexual behaviour against him. “Erased.” The Guardian settles on “cut out.” Incidentally, retroactive film editing in the Soviet block peaked after Stalin’s death, when the Communist leaders decided that the best way to deal …
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  8. Blok, 1903

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    November 6, 2017 by AK

    Alexander Blok wrote this poem aged twenty-two, in 1903, two years before the start of the first Russian revolution. This is not a word-by-word translation but, I hope, one accurate enough, if thoroughly unpoetic. – Is everything quiet among the people? – No. The emperor has been killed. Someone is talking about a new freedom …
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  9. 100 years after

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    November 5, 2017 by AK

    The Kremlin’s approach to the coming centenary of the Bolshevik revolution is to avoid a serious discussion and hope that people don’t think too hard either about the consequences of Bolshevism or about revolutionary situations. It seems to be working, with a few minor hiccups. A few days before the anniversary, Russian security services detained …
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  10. Medinsky v. Herberstein

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    November 1, 2017 by AK

    Whenever I vow to myself, nulla dies sine linea, catatonia sets on and the inner voter goes for blogger’s block. I’m back with an amusing snippet from the new Russian chronicles of shame. The Moscow Times reported on October 20: Russia’s state academic panel has ruled that Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky will keep his PhD …
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